Why Masonry Caulking Can Fail

masonry caulkingCaulking provides an airtight, watertight seal between two materials. Polyurethane, butyl rubber and silicone caulks are specially formulated to ensure good adhesion on brick and other masonry services. But for various reasons, masonry caulking can fail, creating much more expensive repairs such as cracking, water and brick damage. While masonry caulking is designed to last about 20 years, both new buildings and old are susceptible to caulking problems. When the caulk is no longer adhering to both materials or is cracked, it’s a sure sign of failure.

Problem 1: Caulking Doesn’t Adhere

If the surfaces are not properly cleaned prior to the application, or joints are not cleaned out and tooled, the sealant may not adhere properly to the surfaces. Problems can emerge days, weeks or even months after the application.

Problem 2: Tears or Cracks in the Caulking

Poor joint design can result in tears within the caulk itself. Generally the design will call for a foam backer rod, or a specified ratio of width to thickness as well as proper tooling of the joints.

Problem 3: The Installer Misses a Spot
Caulking is subject to human error. Even a small break in the caulk can result in a leak.

Problem 4: Caulking Is Under Water

Constant exposure to water will cause caulking to fail prematurely. A professional tuckpointing contractor or building professional can diagnose structural issues which result from improper drainage. For example, a window sill or porch sloped the wrong way can keep caulking permanently wet.

Problem 5: Caulk Incompatibility

Sometimes different materials just don’t like each other.  In certain situations, the caulk can react to another material that is present or to a substance used as a cleaner. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions explicitly.

Because failures do occur, it’s important to check caulking regularly. And while caulking appears to be a simple task, the problems above demonstrate it can actually be quite complicated. A professional installation ensures the right materials, tools and techniques will be used to keep a tight seal for many years to come.

Not sure if you need new caulking? Give us a call.

Brick Maintenance and Repair Blog

Find useful information and tips for maintaining the value of your brick buildings.
About the Owner


John Gallagher

John Gallagher learned the craft of tuckpointing while in his late teens. His father, a first generation Irish immigrant and construction worker, encouraged his son’s entrepreneurial spirit. John earned a business degree from Loras College, and soon afterward he founded Shamrock Tuckpointing.

Copyright 2012 Builder - Company. Design by OrangeIdea